Friday, December 16, 2011

First Train to Paradise - The Railroad That Went to Sea

I'm writing today's blog in a hotel in Mobil, Alabama.  We left Juno Beach early this morning on the first day of a four-day road trip to Arizona.  Maggie, the traveling dog, is happy to be out of the truck right now - and so are we!   I meant to do this post yesterday but we spent most of the day packing the truck.

When we were enjoying the Christmas festivities at Whitehall Mansion (a.k.a. The Flagler Museum) we got to see a special exhibition commemorating the 100th anniversary of the completion of the Over-Sea Railroad.
Built between 1905 and 1912, the Over-Sea Railroad was the most ambitious engineering feat ever undertaken by a private citizen.  It was the final link connecting Jacksonville to Key West.

Skeptics doubted it could be done and dubbed the project "Flagler's Folly," but Flagler and his employees pressed forward despite five hurricanes, extreme heat, mosquitoes, and disease.  The train engine in this picture was overturned during one of those hurricanes!

Hubby loved reading the stories of the dedicated workers who risked their lives, and sometimes lost them, to build this railroad.

The dream was finally realized on January 22, 1912 when thousands of Floridians welcomed Henry Flagler's arrival aboard the first train to Key West.  The man with the white hair and moustache is Flagler, the woman following behind, carrying flowers, is his wife, Mary Lily, for whom he built Whitehall Mansion as a wedding gift.

This 156 miles of railroad from Miami to Key West, much of it over water, was hailed as "the Eighth Wonder of the World."

That's all for today!  Tomorrow morning, it's back in the truck and on to Seguin, Texas for the next night's stay.  We don't like the trip to get there but we're sure looking forward to a month at home and time with the kids and grandsons.  I'm not sure when I'll be posting again so
Have a Very Merry Christmas and a Blessed New Year!


  1. Some nice history today! I have really enjoyed the Flagler story.

  2. WOW! Love archival pictures. I thank you for sharing these tidbits of Florida history. Hope to see you.

  3. Great history, Thanks for the brief lesson, I see the Flagler name including Fkagler Beach all over FL but never really knew who he is....Christine

  4. Looks like you are having some fun along the way on your trip home.
    How nice you'll be home for a month. I know you are looking forward to that.
    Wishing you a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
    Enjoy your family!